Administrative law covers the laws produced by the executive branch and its subordinate agencies. As a means of enforcing statutory law, agencies write rules and regulations, as well as render administrative decisions. Executive agencies receive their power to act from the General Assembly by way of enabling statutes. These statutes will either expressly define an agency’s authority, or provide an agency with the deference to act in ways necessary to enforce the statute.
When researching administrative law, researchers will typically look at rules and regulations, administrative decisions, attorney general opinions, and executive orders.
Agencies in Georgia are defined under the Administrative Procedure Act, which is codified in Title 50, Chapter 13 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Only the agencies defined under Georgia's A.P.A. have the power to write rules and regulations. The A.P.A. requires agencies to make their rules and regulations available to the public.
Similar to statutes, rules and regulations currently in force are collected and organized into an administrative code. In Georgia, the administrative code is titled Official Compilation of Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia. Unlike the O.C.G.A., which organizes statutes based on topic, the rules and regulations in the Official Compilation are organized based on the issuing agency. Researchers should cite to Official Compilation as Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 125-2-3.04.
In addition to publishing final rules in the Official Compilation, agencies are also required to give the public notice of proposed rules. Agencies publish proposed rules in the Georgia Government Register, which is published monthly.
Georgia agencies exercise quasi-judicial power by issuing orders, decisions, and opinions. With some exceptions, the A.P.A. requires agencies to make all of their final decisions, opinions, and orders available to the public. In spite of this requirement, researchers will find it quite difficult to locate agency decisions.
When researching agency decisions, researchers should consult the agency's website, a commercial database, or decisions rendered by the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH).
The Georgia Attorney General serves as the legal advisor for the executive department. In this capacity, the AG represents the state in certain civil and criminal matters, and issues opinions on the law at the request of the Governor and other state officials.
While AG opinions are not binding on Georgia courts, the courts do consider them to be persuasive authority. Opinions come in the form of official opinions and unofficial opinions. Official opinions are those requested by and issued to the Governor and executive department heads. Unofficial opinions are those issued to other state officials.
Official and unofficial opinions follow a similar citation format, with the only difference being the letter "U" that proceeds the citation numbers for unofficial opinions. Below are examples of citations to an official and unofficial opinion. In these examples, the number 98 identifies the year, while the number 7 identifies the chronological number of the issued opinion.
The Georgia Governor uses executive orders for a variety of reasons, including enforcing existing legislation, creating commissions, or otherwise influencing the legislative process.